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96                               THE GAY GENIUS

restoration of the price equalisation granaries on the old basis.

"Han Chi is a faithful minister," said the Emperor, discussing this
memorandum with Wang Anshih. "While serving in the country, he
still has not forgotten about the imperial house. I thought the loans
were for the benefit of the people and did not realise that they were
doing so much harm. Besides, these seedling loans were intended for
the farming districts. Why do they sell them in the cities?"

"What's the harm?" replied Wang Anshih quickly. "If the people
in the cities want the loans, why not let them have them?"

There was, therefore, a long exchange of letters between Han Chi
and the court, and the retired premier specifically pointed out that
what the state-capitalist of the Han dynasty had done in squeezing
the life blood of the people in order to fill the emperor's war chest could
hardly be considered a measure to "enrich die country".

This shook Wang Anshih's position, and the Emperor began to think
of suspending the loans. Wang Anshih heard about it and asked for
sick leave. In referring to Wang's request for leave, Szema Kuang used
the phrase, "the scholars are in a boiling rage and the people of the
country are in an uproar". The high ministers discussed this situation,
and Chao Pien, who was still for Wang, said that they had better wait
until Wang's leave was over. That very night Tseng Kungliang, a
cabinet member, had his son tell Wang Anshih secretly of the impend-
ing change, and asked Wang to cancel his leave. Following Tseng's
secret tip, Wang did cancel his leave and appeared at the court again,
and was able to persuade the Emperor that the opposition was merely
trying to "block His Majesty's reforms".

Not knowing what to think, the Emperor now sent two eunuchs to
the country to report on the situation. The eunuchs, however, knew on
which side their bread was buttered, and came back with the report
that the loans were "popular" with the people and that "there was no
compulsion". Wen Yenpo, an old official, objected and said to the
Emperor: "Do you believe two eunuchs, but will not believe Han Chi,
who has served as a premier in three successive regimes?" But the
Emperor believed his own reporters and was strengthened in his deter-
mination to go through with the .new measure. How often a few
irresponsible or ignorant reporters who do not understand what they-
are talking about can affect the development of events and influeriS
the national policy of a country! If the castrated men had had the:
manliness to tell the truth, the course of the Sung dynasty would, have
taken a different turn at this time. What happened to those two
-eunuchs when the truth was revealed to the world we do not know.
They had reported what the Emperor wanted to hear. When times
changed and it was no longer the fashion to talk about these wonderful
^agrarian reformers", they could keep sheepishly quiet.